Marking: Keeping it Simple by @DianKenny

Teaching is a rewarding and challenging profession. Teachers are instrumental in the type of future their pupils will have, it is an influential profession. Teachers are therefore understandably scrutinised.

The problem is this scrutiny has been incessant. It seems everyone has an opinion on the subject of teaching with study after study, recommendations on teaching and learning, changes to the curriculum, new teaching standards, changes to inspections, lesson gradings and the gradings of teaching. It is not surprising therefore that many teachers are at best confused and at worst stressed and burnt out.

In a recent blog post Are we Overthinking Teaching? I suggested that we should leave teachers to choose their own teaching style, to trust them as professionals to teach the way they teach and not to conform to a certain teaching style. In fact Ofsted we were told, as of the new academic year 2014 would no longer grade individual lessons.

Could this be true? Teachers across the country cautiously celebrated. They were right to be cautious. The new ‘push’, ‘drive’ to improve teaching and learning is here …… Marking and Feedback. Teachers have always marked pupils work so what is the problem?

The opinions, suggestions, studies ……….. Yet again teachers need to be told how to mark, how much to mark, to allow their pupils time to feedback on the marking, to ensure the marking is informative, provides next steps. The list is yet again endless. Again teachers become confused and unsure of how best to do something they have done well for years.

Click image above to view original version

Sadly all of this not only leads to teachers disillusionment but it also makes teachers look like moaners, constant complainers! Perhaps they are, perhaps through this is again because of the over scrutiny. Why oh why can’t teachers be trusted, taken out of the spotlight for a while? Let teachers catch their breath, get a handle on the new curriculum and do what they do best, TEACH!

O.K. rant over – I am lucky enough to work with some fellow professionals who share my beliefs in keeping it simple. So together we sat down and came up with a KS1 Marking Policy. The ethos of this policy is to make marking count but to keep it simple! It is based on the use of marking symbols. These symbols we believe serve two purposes:

Firstly KS1 pupils cannot easily access reams and reams of written feedback and if they can they don’t want to, they actually love nothing more than a smiley face or sticker. 

Secondly using these symbols keeps marking manageable and meets the criteria that Ofsted look for. It helps pupils to see what they have done well and what they need to add to get better.

Lots of the images come from The Teachers Sentence Toolkit as well as ideas based upon V.C.O.P taken from The Big Write.

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Diane Kenny and published with kind permission. The original post can be found here. This article was originally published in 2015 and updated in 2020 by the UKEd Editorial team in accordance with website and policy changes.

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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